Parents urged to rethink the school run

Croppolluting cars

Charities and health experts call for more children to walk or cycle to school

5th August 2020 by Gavin Stuart 0 Comments

Charities and health experts are urging parents in Scotland to rethink the school run when pupils return to classrooms next week.

Sustrans, Cycling Scotland, Living Streets, Paths for All, and Forth Environment Link have all called on parents to ditch their cars in favour of walking, cycling or other modes of healthier, greener transport when they take their children to school after months of absence.

The call comes after a survey revealed more pupils than ever before were driven to school in 2019, and has been backed by Scotland’s Active Nation Commissioner as well as health bodies the Royal College for Paediatrics and Child Health Scotland (RCPCH) and the British Lung Foundation.

Lynn Stocks, Sustrans Scotland head of behaviour change, said: “Over the past five months, many children have learned to ride bikes, many people have discovered their local area on foot. After months of break from routine, the journey to school is a chance to get a bit of regular daily exercise for both children and their guardians.

“And, for parents who may still be working from home, the walk/ cycle to school and back offers a chance to start the working day with some exercise.

“Our streets cannot afford more congestion and air pollution and our children cannot afford more inactivity after months of home schooling. This is a chance to make a positive change to the way our children travel to school, to make it safer and healthier for everyone.”

Professor Steve Turner, RCPCH officer for Scotland, said: “In Scotland, more than 22% of our four to five year olds are overweight or obese. We know that obese children are more likely to become obese adults with increased risk of developing a range of other health conditions. We also know that asthma is one of the leading cause of hospital admissions for our children and young people.

“Encouraging families to walk, cycle or scoot to school will not only reduced air pollution, it will embed healthy behaviours in our children and young people which in turn will help to prevent ill health.”

Ian Findlay, chief officer at Paths for All said it was important that parents consider their children’s physical and mental health after months of lockdown.

"The benefits to children of walking, cycling or wheeling to school are huge,” he added. “Being active not only improves their health and fitness, it is good for children socially and mentally too. It improves their concentration and learning, makes them feel good and builds confidence and social skills - all things essential to the school day ahead.

"Covid-19 has changed family routines and many children won't have exercised as much as usual, without summer clubs and organised sport for the last four months. Using the journey to school to increase activity levels will help our children to flourish."